Difference Between Food Scientist & Food Technologist

Interested in science and food? These two areas are a big part of being a food scientist and a food technologist. While food scientists may study food on every level, from the production process to packaging technology, food technologists help companies develop new products.

Comparing Food Scientists to Food Technologists

Food scientists study food, using their scientific knowledge to improve safety, production, and nutrition. A food technologist is a very specific kind of food scientist. These technologists tend to work with a company in order to produce new flavors, foods, and products that will be popular with consumers. Similarities and differences are further explored below.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Food Scientist Bachelor's Degree in Food Science; advanced degree may be useful $59,443 (2016)* 3% (for all food scientists and technologists)
Food Technologist Bachelor's Degree in Food Science; advanced degree may be useful $53,431 (2017)** 3% (for all food scientists and technologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **PayScale.com

Responsibilities of Food Scientists vs. Food Technologists

The responsibilities and work setting of these food researchers can vary greatly depending on their role and who they are working for. A food technologist generally works with a company to study their current products and help develop new ones through scientific research, nutritional evaluation, and testing panels. Food scientists also study food but in a wider array of settings and for different purposes, including quality control in factories and agriculture research on farms. A strong background in science is crucial for both of these careers.

Food Scientist

Food scientists analyze food at the levels of testing, consumption, nutrition, and production. Those who focus on production may help develop more efficient and safe packaging and production systems. Those who work in quality assurance will closely examine food for nutrition and safety standards. Work setting and hours depends on the scientist's role. Work in the agriculture industry may lead to frequent travel in order to work closely with farmers on their land. Food scientists who work more in research will have less travel and will spend their time working in a lab setting. Food scientists should have at least a bachelor's degree in food science and may receive on-the-job training.

Job responsibilities of a food scientist include:

  • Execute scientific experiments to improve food products
  • Effectively relay findings to the government, the food industry, and the public
  • Ensure that government regulations for safety and hygiene are being met
  • Keep updated records of nutritional and safety requirements

Food Technologist

Food technologists work with food production companies to ensure that the food they produce meets standards, while also using their scientific background to help develop new products. These new products are then commonly tested by focus groups, so that the food technologist can understand the public's reaction and what possible improvements could be made. When a product is created for public release, the technologist will examine the food's nutritional content to ensure accuracy of labels and packaging. It is common for food technologists to have a bachelor's degree in food science.

Job responsibilities of a food technologist include:

  • Determine estimates of shelf life for food products
  • Keep the economics of production in mind while developing new products
  • Monitor the reaction of the public once a new product is released
  • Keep reports and clearly communicate findings of research and test panels

Related Careers

Plenty of other options in food and product development are available. If the farm-related research that food scientists do sounds appealing, you may be interested in becoming an agricultural research scientist. Those intrigued by the idea of creating new products that will be sold to the public may enjoy a career as a product development engineer.

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